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November 27, 2007


Hector smiling
Hector Verdugo
Los Angeles Times photo by Annie Wells

Writing Out Of The Gang

Hector Verdugo spent his childhood in Ramona Gardens, a part of East Los Angeles that is known as a rough place to grow up. He was primarily raised by an older brother. But as he got older, his brother's rules felt too  restrictive. One day he punched his brother in the face and left home for good.

Hector soon fell in with the guys from his neighborhood, almost all of whom were gang members. Hector rose quickly as a drug dealer - he had lots of money and he spent it on stereos and low riding cars. But one day he decided he wanted out. Hector defied all odds and made it out of street life. At age 30, he earned his GED through an organization called Homeboy Industries.

Leslie Schwartz teaches a writing class at Homeboy Industries - it's through this class that she met Hector. Leslie quickly recognized that Hector had real talent as a writer. Leslie talks with Dick about how giving her students the power to express themselves through writing has changed them and influenced her as well.

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